Monday, January 08, 2007

Betty La Fea (Ugly Betty) Mas Bella Update XXVI

"Ugly Betty" has jumped the pond, as they say, as this story on its premier in the UK indicates. Good ratings, but not beating "Soapstar Superstar," which I'd rather not know about. It'll be interesting to see what the people who gave us Monty Python think about the offspring of "Betty La Fea." And here's a funny story on the Scottish actress who plays Christina. She's got a good take on the actresses whose "caught in a wind chamber" look is all the same. Fun stuff. And finally, the NY Times does another piece on "Ugly" which, while it admits it is not a real telenovela, it calls a telenovela. Sorry, not even close. Borrowed parts of characters, did some permutations, hired a great young actress as the star and a slightly older guy to be her boss and match chemistry. Good show, which I enjoy, but not and never will be "Betty La Fea." Even manages to miss the way "Ugly" has already evolved its characters out of the caricatures that populate telenovelas but cudos to recognizing that "Ugly" dumped the "Mama" character because it would have been seen as too submissive for Americans. What the author didn't get was that "Betty" was a telenovela on its head, playing off the traditions and building its ultimately moral and political troubles into a true classic far beyond the normal range of the genre. What's made "La Fea Mas Bella" so hard to watch, as I've lamented, is that, to drag it out for ratings (just like the last year of "Friends") they had to contort and mangle the characters and situations, jumping the "Betty" shark with the very old and predictable "two guys are in love with the same woman," something that "Betty La Fea" managed to transcend. "Ugly Betty," not being a telenovela, wisely didn't pretend to try. It maintains the challenges to class and superficial image from the classic, but its impact is yet to be known and unlikely to be as great. Still, the article gets the concepts mostly right and out to a broader audience. I just wish someone would run "Betty La Fea" again now so people could see what they're missing in both its successors.